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Ahly survive Maqassa scare to give Martin Jol winning start

Hatem Maher , Saturday 5 Mar 2016
Ahly
Ahly's new coach Martin Jol (Al-Ahram)
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Ahly survived a scare from one of the Egyptian Premier League dark horses to claim a 2-1 win over Maqassa and give new coach Martin Jol a winning start on Saturday, going nine points clear at the top of the table.

In-form youngster Ramadan Sobhi, the architect of most of Ahly's attacking attempts, broke the deadlock shortly before the interval but Maqassa's Mohamed Gaber leveled the score on the hour mark after capitalizing on a dreadful mistake from defender Ahmed Hegazy.

However, substitute striker Amr Gamal finished off a neatly-worked counter attack with 14 minutes remaining to settle Ahly's nerves and help them avenge a 1-0 defeat by the same opponent last November.

Dutchman Jol enjoyed a fine start to his reign as he seeks to lead Ahly to the league title after their eight-season hegemony was ended by bitter rivals Zamalek last term.

Zamalek will be desperate to beat Arab Contractors on Sunday to trim the gap back to six points and keep alive their hopes of defending the title.  

Maqassa remain fourth in the table with 33 points, five behind second-placed Zamalek who occupy the last spot which qualifies for the African Champions League. 

Early grip

Ahly took an early grip on the game, signaling their intent with two efforts from lone striker Malick Evouna and attacking midfielder Moemen Zakareya in the first quarter of an hour.

Gabon's Evouna made a foray towards the area in the same manner as when he netted the opener in last week's 2-0 Cairo derby win over Zamalek, bamboozling two back-tracking defenders but his subsequent shot went high over.

Zakareya also fired over the bar with the goal at his mercy after a poor defensive clearance fell into his path from eight yards out.

Maqassa's only chance saw a volley by Ghanaian striker Nana Poku tipped over by Ahly keeper Ahmed Adel, who is still deputizing for the injured Sherif Ekramy, on 34 minutes but the hosts ensured they would go to the locker room with a deserved lead when Sobhi, 19, struck three minutes before the break.

He superbly exchanged passes with playmaker Abdallah El-Said in tight space before placing a low shot into the bottom corner.

Maqassa notably improved after the break, pouring forward en masse to unsettle Ahly's backline.

The pressure resulted in an equaliser on 60 minutes when Gaber pounced on Hegazy's header back to the poorly-positioned keeper to send a sliding shot into an empty net.

Maqassa's bold approach continued after they restored parity but it cost them, with Ahly exploiting the gaps they left following a swift breakaway to restore their advantage and make sure there will not be any upsets.

Following a move initiated by skipper Hossam Ghaly on the edge of Ahly's penalty area, El-Said fed the overlapping Gamal at the other end to calmly slot beneath the keeper and into the net.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

 
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